What are the Surcharges on Unpaid Child Support?

San Diego, CA – Child support payments are never an easy subject to broach, no matter what financial state you and your former spouse may be in. Whether you are the custodial parent or not, this difficult issue can be exacerbated by delinquent payments.

The Basics

child support lawyer CAIn California, various measures are taken when child support payments are not made. First, in an effort to reduce the amount of unpaid support in the state, interest, and surcharges are added to delinquent accounts.

Second, in cases of payments more than 30 days late, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) can submit the delinquent parent’s information to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If payments are not completed within 150 days, the parent’s driver license will be suspended.

What’s worse is that California law doesn’t differentiate those who are financially unable to pay due to disability or job loss versus those who are able and simply refuse to make payments. Finally, the stakes rise even higher: parents who do not pay their child support over time face up to $2,000 in additional fines as well as up to one year in jail, as they are considered “in contempt of court.” California law very carefully outlines its regulations and enforcement of child support payments.

Added Interest and Fees

California adds a 10% yearly interest rate to outstanding child support payments, among the highest rates in the country. This includes interest on arrears (past-due child support), as well as retroactive support and interest on adjudicated arrears.

What if I Can’t Pay?

In the wake of the economic crisis of 2008, some parents just can’t keep up with child support payments. If you find your wages (or lack thereof) just aren’t enough, you have a few options:

  1. Try to change your child support order to make it more realistically match your circumstances.
  2. Check out the Child Support Handbook supplied by the California Department of Child Support Services.
  3. Succumb to the prescribed measures of California law:
    a. Wage assignment (garnishment)
    b. Denial of renewal of professional licenses (e.g., doctor, teacher, attorney, contractor, etc.)
    c. Denial of passport applications or renewals
    d. Loss of state income tax refunds, property tax credits, lottery winnings, and so forth
    e. Liens against renewal against real property
    f. Garnishment of workers’ compensation payments
  4. Talk with an experienced family law firm, such as San Diego-area Griffith, Young, and Lass.

When Child Support Ends

In California, child support payments automatically end when the child:

  • Graduates from high school
  • Turns 18 (if a high school graduate) or 19 (if a non-graduate)
  • Joins the military
  • Marries or enters into a legally-recognized domestic partnership
  • Dies

Since each child support case is drastically different, it’s crucial that you consult with professionals. Schedule a free consultation with John Griffith and his San Diego-based family law firm today to ensure a smooth child support process.

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